The heat blanketing the Middle East is affecting the 2016 UCI Road World Championships in Doha. Riders have complained of extreme conditions and have exhibited signs of heat exhaustion, with several individuals requiring medical assistance. To give the Italian National Road Cycling Team an innovative edge, the Castelli Speed Research Unit and Politecnico di Milano have developed a jersey with titanium dioxide sun protection and cooling panels to help the riders beat the heat.
Beating the heat, or rather minimizing its negative effects on performance. It’s not just the temperature that matters, but also the humidity and airflow. And what does it mean to race in these conditions? When the body temperature rises above 39 degrees (to the heat generated by muscular effort is added that from the sun’s radiation), oxygen transfer from hemoglobin to body tissues is impaired, with a corresponding decline in performance.
A 2 percent reduction in weight due to dehydration reduces performance by 8 to 10 percent.
Heat dissipation takes place largely through the evaporation of sweat. However, excessive sweating leads to the most dangerous enemy, dehydration, because there is a limit to how much fluid an individual can replenish. A 2 percent reduction in weight due to dehydration reduces performance by 8 to 10 percent. And another dissipation phenomenon becomes very important: conduction, the organism’s contact with a colder-temperature liquid (soaking oneself often or drinking cool liquids).
The fabric on the back blocks 94 percent of UV rays and contains titanium dioxide, an agent used in sunscreens, which filters out UVA and UVB rays.
TEAM ITALIA JERSEY
A TITANIUM JERSEY WITH COOLING PANELS
Inspired by this principle, the Italian national team, led by Cassani, and Castelli have been studying the ideal clothing for about a year. Their research has resulted in a futuristic skinsuit developed in the wind tunnel at the Politecnico di Milano, the largest technical university in Italy.
— ELIA VIVIANI (@eliaviviani) 15 ottobre 2016
White rather than blue, with fabric on the back that blocks 94 percent of UV rays and contains titanium dioxide, an agent used in sunscreens, which filters out UVA and UVB rays. The fabric on the front is much lighter and more open to improve airflow. But the great innovation is the cooling panels: tubes filled with a polymer (which absorbs 400 times its weight in water) and subsequently frozen. When these panels thaw, they continue to cool the athlete through slow evaporation. It won’t win the world championships on its own, but it will provide a significant benefit.
The 2016 Team Italia Replica Jersey without cooling panels and UVA protection is available in stores and online.